Should I withdraw from a class?

  • #1
jv07cs
39
2
I am currently in the beginning of my Junior year as a physics major. This semester I am taking Electromagnetic Theory A, Mathematical Physics A, Mathematical Physics B and a special topics course (which consists of some minicourses and seminars on a range of topics in theoretical and mathematical physics). I am also in the second-half of a year-long research project I am doing in mathematical physics and I am also a member of an extracurricular program that organizes and plans various academic activities (such as events, workshops, outreach projetcs, etc). My gpa is currently 3.63/4.

I am thinking about withdrawing from a class: Mathematical Physics B. The reason why is that I am not enjoying it, I don't like the lectures, the teaching methodology, the lecture notes. The content is interesting, and the professor is a really nice guy and he is extremely knowledgeable in mathematical physics, but this class is just not my style.

There is this other professor, who is one of my favorites at my university, who will probably offer this course in the next semester and I am wondering if it would be better to withdraw from this class now and retake it the next semester.

It is also important to note that I haven't taken any exams yet, but I believe I would pass this class. However, I would not enjoy it and probably would not learn much. If I withdraw from it, I would just focus more on the other classes and on my research.

Should I withdraw from this class? I guess my main concern is how much it would affect my transcript (if it would look bad).
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
jv07cs said:
if it would look bad
It will not look good.
 
  • Like
Likes CalcNerd
  • #3
If you withdraw before the add/drop date it shouldn't show on your transcript at all. Otherwise a withdrawal on your transcript isn't necessarily a deal breaker. It depends on what your goals are. What I would advise you to consider is that you won't always have the option of taking courses with interesting professors. Sometimes you just need to power through whether you enjoy it or not.
 
  • #4
gwnorth said:
a withdrawal on your transcript isn't necessarily a deal breaker
True...but it's also the case that nobody ever said "I really wanted to get this guy, but he just didn't have enough W's on his transcript."
 
  • #5
gwnorth said:
If you withdraw before the add/drop date it shouldn't show on your transcript at all. Otherwise a withdrawal on your transcript isn't necessarily a deal breaker. It depends on what your goals are. What I would advise you to consider is that you won't always have the option of taking courses with interesting professors. Sometimes you just need to power through whether you enjoy it or not.
Thanks for your reply. The add/drop deadline has passed already (it was until the first week of the semester), so it would show on my transcript.

Do you think that, having in my mind that I haven't failed nor withdrawn any classes, this one withdraw on my transcript could be significantly harmful for future grad school applications, for example?

There have already been more than a few occasions that I have taken classes that I didn't like the quality at all, but powered through them due to the importance of the subject. But, in this case, this class is not even a pre-requisite for any other classes I will take (and have to take), it is just a required for me to graduate.

The content itself, I believe I can learn better by self-studying, but having to go to this class, studying for exams, etc has been tiresome. All I feel is that it has been taking time that I could spend on doing my research project, studying for other classes and even learning the subject in a way that fits better my learning style.
 
  • #6
Vanadium 50 said:
True...but it's also the case tyhat nobody ever said "I really wanted to get this guy, but he just didn't have enough W's on his transcript."
Do you think it would look bad, like it would have a negative impact in future applications etc? Or just that it wouldn't be a positive point? Like it would look better if I didn't have that W, but having one doesn't really affect anything?
 
  • #7
What is the syllabus for the class? What topics does it cover?

jv07cs said:
The content is interesting, and the professor is a really nice guy and he is extremely knowledgeable in mathematical physics, but this class is just not my style.
jv07cs said:
There is this other professor, who is one of my favorites at my university, who will probably offer this course in the next semester and I am wondering if it would be better to withdraw from this class now and retake it the next semester.
Will the syllabus for the class change? If you think your current prof is a good person and knows the material well, what will change when you re-take the class?
 
  • #8
How much longer does your semester run? It's May, when I was in school we were nearly done by now.
 
  • #9
berkeman said:
What is the syllabus for the class? What topics does it cover?
It covers a bit of measure theory and operators in Hilbert Spaces in the first half. And the second half covers special functions (gamma, Bessel, etc).
berkeman said:
Will the syllabus for the class change? If you think your current prof is a good person and knows the material well, what will change when you re-take the class?
I would re-take with another professor, with whom I have taken two other classes and really like the teaching methodology (he offers this class every other semester). The syllabus does change a little bit, his course is basically a course on topology, operators and a bit of measure theory.
 
  • #10
gmax137 said:
How much longer does your semester run? It's May, when I was in school we were nearly done by now.
Until the end of July (we are like 35% through the semester).
 
  • #11
Yes it will look bad.

People will assume you dropped because you were failing. If your school has a "WP" grade (withdrew passing) they will assume you got a D-. If you explain with "The professor just wasn't my style" they will think "the next time he gets a professor that's 'not his style' he will drop of fail again - and in grad school that's a near certainty."

And they'd be right. If your reaction to a professor who isn't your style is to drop the class, I don't see how you will make it through grad school.

It will look bad because it will be bad.
 
  • #12
Vanadium 50 said:
And they'd be right. If your reaction to a professor who isn't your style is to drop the class, I don't see how you will make it through grad school.
I wouldn't say that is my reaction to this. It is not the first time that a situation like this happens, where I am not satisfied with the quality of the class. But for this specific situation, I know that I have the opportunity to re-take this course with a professor that fits my learning style better, which means that I have to opportunity to learn the subject in greater depth.

I say this because I realized how much problems like this affected my learning in previous important subjects, and I would like to make decisions prioritizing learning instead of grades at least in undergrad, because of how important having a strong foundation is.

But, of course, some decisions that prioritize learning can impact on how my transcript looks. And it is hard to decide whether some decisions a worth it.
 
  • #13
jv07cs said:
I wouldn't say that is my reaction to this. It is not the first time that a situation like this happens, where I am not satisfied with the quality of the class. But for this specific situation, I know that I have the opportunity to re-take this course with a professor that fits my learning style better, which means that I have to opportunity to learn the subject in greater depth.

I say this because I realized how much problems like this affected my learning in previous important subjects, and I would like to make decisions prioritizing learning instead of grades at least in undergrad, because of how important having a strong foundation is.

But, of course, some decisions that prioritize learning can impact on how my transcript looks. And it is hard to decide whether some decisions a worth it.
To withdraw or not is less important than learning-or-not-learning. Forget the grades to earn. If you are learning, and you believe learning well enough, then stay in the course (or not) and move onward. If you are not learning well enough, then absolutely, study again ON YOUR OWN, even if you plan to enroll again for a repeat of the course.
 
  • Like
Likes jv07cs and Vanadium 50
  • #14
jv07cs said:
I realized how much problems like this affected my learning in previous important subjects
Then you should seriously reconsider your plans for grad school. Grad school is taught by experts in the field, and some are great techers and some are...um...not so great.

If you insist on great teachers, you will not make it out of graduate school. If the committee thinks this, you won't make it in to graduate school.
 
  • Like
Likes berkeman
  • #15
symbolipoint said:
even if you plan to enroll again for a repeat of the course.
@jv07cs -- Maybe a dumb question, but if you complete the course this semester and retake it next semester and do better, how does that show up on your transcript? It will obviously be easier taking it the 2nd time, so the extra units on your schedule may not be too hard, and if you think you can learn more/extra things by taking it again, maybe that would not be a bad thing depending on how it shows up on your scholastic record and how you explain it in your graduate school applications...
 
  • Like
Likes rayansmith
  • #16
Vanadium 50 said:
Then you should seriously reconsider your plans for grad school. Grad school is taught by experts in the field, and some are great techers and some are...um...not so great.

If you insist on great teachers, you will not make it out of graduate school. If the committee thinks this, you won't make it in to graduate school.
I really don't think you are getting what I am saying. I am not talking about withdrawing or dropping every class that I don't like. I have never done it.

My question is regarding this one specific situation. If for this specific situation, this one time, where I know that I can have a better and more fitting opportunity to take this class next semester, would it be worth it withdrawing? I am not talking about a pattern and I am not asking about doing this everytime such a situation arises. I am really only talking about this one specific situation.
 
  • #17
jv07cs said:
My question is regarding this one specific situation. If for this specific situation, this one time, where I know that I can have a better and more fitting opportunity to take this class next semester, would it be worth it withdrawing?
What do you think your grade will be if you continue in this class and finish it? What improvement in that grade do you anticipate if you drop it now and retake it?
 
  • #18
berkeman said:
@jv07cs -- Maybe a dumb question, but if you complete the course this semester and retake it next semester and do better, how does that show up on your transcript? It will obviously be easier taking it the 2nd time, so the extra units on your schedule may not be too hard, and if you think you can learn more/extra things by taking it again, maybe that would not be a bad thing depending on how it shows up on your scholastic record and how you explain it in your graduate school applications...
In my university, we can only withdraw from a class (without justification) until 50% of the semester is complete. After that, as far as I know, I can only either pass or fail the class. If I pass, I can't re-take it (not officially at least, I could attend the class again but voluntarily).
 
  • Informative
Likes symbolipoint
  • #19
Sorry, I'm not understanding your reply. So the letter grade from your first take of the class will show on your transcript (call it a "B" for argument's sake), and the 2nd take of the class will show up as a "P"?
 
  • #20
jv07cs said:
I really don't think you are getting what I am saying.
Right back atcha.

You asked if it will look bad. It will. That doesn't mean you are a bad person. But this will look very bad indeed. If you explain it, it will look even worse.

Now do whatever you want.
 
  • #21
berkeman said:
Sorry, I'm not understanding your reply. So the letter grade from your first take of the class will show on your transcript (call it a "B" for argument's sake), and the 2nd take of the class will show up as a "P"?
I am also interested in clarification on this.

Just by guessing, it seems his institution may let student drop a course during first half of term and not have a transcript record. If drop course during second half of term, the department or institution will either record a W; or a WF; or a WD; the latter of which will later or could later be converted to the corresponding F, or D grade. @jv07cs, what is the method?
 
  • Like
Likes berkeman
  • #22
berkeman said:
What do you think your grade will be if you continue in this class and finish it? What improvement in that grade do you anticipate if you drop it now and retake it?
Hmm I really don't know as I haven't taken any exams yet and I don't know how the exams are, how the professor grades them. But I believe I would get at least a C. If I truly dedicated to this class (like focusing on studying for the exams), I think I could get an A. But, as up until now I feel like I will not take much from this class, doing this, to me, will only feel like I am just studying for exams, not really learning the material (the main source material is the professor's lectures and lecture notes) and wasting time I could use to focus more on my research project and in other classes.

If I retake it, I believe I would get an A. I really enjoy the classes of this other professor and, from my experience with him, his teaching methodology fits better my learning style, which helps me understanding the subject in greater depth.
 
  • #23
@berkeman , @symbolipoint

Sorry, my reply was really unclear hahaha.

In my university, we usually have like the first week or so to add/drop classes (which doesn't show in the transcript). Then we also have the chance to withdraw from classes in the first half of the semester, which shows on the transcript as a withdraw. After that, as far as I know, we can only do a "justified withdraw", which would require a valid justification (like health issues, etc). In my case, I can either withdraw now in the first half or I will have to go through until the end of the semester and either pass or fail.
 
  • #24
jv07cs said:
But I believe I would get at least a C.
jv07cs said:
My gpa is currently 3.63/4.
Holy crap. If your GPA is at 3.63 and you may get a C in this class, then drop it and deal with the grad school ramifications. Hopefully you can do a lot better with your favorite prof next semester. You should obviously talk to your faculty advisor about all of this...
 
  • Like
Likes Vanadium 50
  • #25
berkeman said:
Holy crap. If your GPA is at 3.63 and you may get a C in this class, then drop it and deal with the grad school ramifications. Hopefully you can do a lot better with your favorite prof next semester. You should obviously talk to your faculty advisor about all of this...
Got it. Thanks for the advice.
 
  • #26
I more concerned about the fact that you feel the best you could do in a course where you don't like the professor's teaching style is a C but with a different professor you like better you could get an A. This isn't about the teaching style of the professor, this is about you being unwilling to put in the effort to achieve under sub-optimal conditions. Perseverance in the face of obstacles is an important personal characteristic to develop if you want to be successful. You may have the opportunity this time to make the change (with potential consequences) but that won't always be the case. I personally think you should not withdraw and instead put in the effort that would be necessary to get an A.
 
  • Like
Likes PeterDonis
  • #27
gwnorth said:
I more concerned about the fact that you feel the best you could do in a course where you don't like the professor's teaching style is a C but with a different professor you like better you could get an A. This isn't about the teaching style of the professor, this is about you being unwilling to put in the effort to achieve under sub-optimal conditions. Perseverance in the face of obstacles is an important personal characteristic to develop if you want to be successful. You may have the opportunity this time to make the change (with potential consequences) but that won't always be the case. I personally think you should not withdraw and instead put in the effort that would be necessary to get an A.
Hi, @gwnorth. Thanks for the reply.

The main source material for this class is the professor's lectures and lecture notes. And they are not working for me. I can work with the definitions and I can understand the proofs for the propositions. But I don't feel like I am learning anything from it. It doesn't feel like I am really understanding the subject, I am just learning to use it. For me, this is not learning and doesn't hold much value, especially because I can properly learn this in another opportunity.

And dedicating for this class (in this situation), it kind of feels like I am wasting time I could use to properly learn and focus on other activities (research, classes, extracurricular). In my research, for example, I am in the second-half half of it and with an opportunity to even publish a paper depending on my work in these next 4 months.

So I don't think willingness to power through this class is what is missing. I think the question is if it is worth it.
 
  • #28
berkeman said:
Holy crap. If your GPA is at 3.63 and you may get a C in this class, then drop it
Really? What do you figure the change in the final GPA would be if you include one "C" amid 30 or 40 classes averaging 3.6? Is that change (about -0.05 ?) more off-putting than an "Incomplete"?
 
  • #29
gmax137 said:
Is that change (about -0.05 ?) more off-putting than an "Incomplete"?
That's a valid point, but it's in an upper-division Physics class that should be bread and butter for a Physics major. It seems like that "C" will stand out a lot. But, if they only look at the final GPA and not the transcript itself, you are right that it won't change things much.
 
  • Like
Likes PeterDonis
  • #30
I agree, the junior and senior grades are more important, good point!
 
  • #31
jv07cs said:
I am currently in the beginning of my Junior year as a physics major. This semester I am taking Electromagnetic Theory A, Mathematical Physics A, Mathematical Physics B and a special topics course (which consists of some minicourses and seminars on a range of topics in theoretical and mathematical physics). I am also in the second-half of a year-long research project I am doing in mathematical physics and I am also a member of an extracurricular program that organizes and plans various academic activities (such as events, workshops, outreach projetcs, etc). My gpa is currently 3.63/4.

I am thinking about withdrawing from a class: Mathematical Physics B. The reason why is that I am not enjoying it, I don't like the lectures, the teaching methodology, the lecture notes. The content is interesting, and the professor is a really nice guy and he is extremely knowledgeable in mathematical physics, but this class is just not my style.
You are enrolled in parts A and B of Mathematical Physics. Just how are those connected, or are they connected? Is the B supposed to follow the A? Are they co-requisites, or is A a prerequisite for B? My quick guess is that one would enroll in and study part A; and in the next term enroll and study part B. This would seem as you should not be doing both in the same term, and you should have not been enrolled in both at the same time. One might guess that you should drop from Mathematical Physics B as soon as possible, and focus on learning Mathematical Physics A. If this is the right thinking then you should not have enrolled in part B right now!
 
  • #32
symbolipoint said:
You are enrolled in parts A and B of Mathematical Physics. Just how are those connected, or are they connected? Is the B supposed to follow the A? Are they co-requisites, or is A a prerequisite for B? My quick guess is that one would enroll in and study part A; and in the next term enroll and study part B. This would seem as you should not be doing both in the same term, and you should have not been enrolled in both at the same time. One might guess that you should drop from Mathematical Physics B as soon as possible, and focus on learning Mathematical Physics A. If this is the right thinking then you should not have enrolled in part B right now!
Mathematical physics A is not a pre-requisite to B. And they are not co-requisites either. The syllabus for the part A is mainly PDEs, Fourier Analysis, etc. And for part B, it is functional analysis, topology, operators, special functions (the professor has some freedom to decide what the focus will be).

Part B is more of an extra course on mathematical physics, as it is also not a pre-requisite for any other classes.
 
  • #33
You might also want to consider not just GPA, but the fact that you are currently only enrolled in four courses. If you drop one, that's down to three. Maybe four is considered a full course load at your university, but in my experience it's usually five. And more to the point people on admission committees do tend to notice when students aren't carrying a full course load.
 
  • #34
jv07cs said:
In my university, we can only withdraw from a class (without justification) until 50% of the semester is complete.
Is that the situation you're in now? As in, you can withdraw now without justification? If you do do that, and take it again next semester with the other professor, and get an A, what will your transcript look like?
 
  • #35
PeterDonis said:
Is that the situation you're in now? As in, you can withdraw now without justification? If you do do that, and take it again next semester with the other professor, and get an A, what will your transcript look like?
Yes, I can withdraw without justification. If I do it and take this class next semester, it will show in my transcript a W in this class for this semester and an A in this class the next semester.
 

Similar threads

  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
9
Views
434
Replies
10
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
5
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
15
Views
984
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
19
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
3
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
6
Views
1K
Replies
6
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
13
Views
2K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
11
Views
737
Back
Top